Peru '22: Lively Lima

Suzanna Pinder on 13 August 2022
Arriving to Lima after our long flight, it was lovely to be greeted by our enthusiastic local guide, Paola, who swiftly ushered us to our awaiting transfer and straight into the throng of morning rush hour traffic. Not too sure what I had expected from Lima, but a culture surprise to discover locals take traffic regulations as advisory and not mandatory, squeezing through non-existent gaps, turning across multiple lanes of traffic, honking at most things and seeing kids breakdancing in the road at traffic lights! However, somehow it all seemed to work and we were soon relaxing in the calm oasis of our lovely hotel in the popular district for tourists, Miraflores.

Situated on the Pacific coast, Lima reminded me of California, with big skies, a rugged cliff shoreline often shrouded in mist and surfers dotted about the breaks. Home to many wonderful parks, sculptures and street art, Lima is a cool city to wander. We explored much of the city on foot and bike, expertly led by Paola, with her wealth of knowledge about the culture and history.

Like many large cities, Lima is split into districts and one of my favourites was Barranco, with a wonderful bohemian air, cool ranch style houses, hip cafes and bars and fabulous bright street art.

Our evening downtown street food tour was a great insight into local life. Walking through Chinatown we were introduced to Chifa cuisine, a culinary tradition of Chinese Cantonese fused with Peruvian ingredients, a Churros stall popular for having been blessed by the pope, award winning beef hearts and to round the off, Pisco Sours at the Plaza Mayor. I believe many tourists don’t venture downtown in Lima, but I would highly recommend it not only for the authentic food and to mix with the locals, but also for the beautiful colonial architecture.

Whilst Paola expertly navigated us around Lima, she was sadly not to stay with us for the duration of our time in Peru. That was tasked to the amazing Alejandrina (Ale). Getting to know Ale over a delicious welcome dinner of ceviche and lomo saltado at a wonderfully quirky restaurant overlooking Inca ruins of an important ceremonial site (don’t think we could have got more Peruvian, even if we had tried!), we eventually managed to extract from her that not only had she walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu over 700 times, but she recently won an award for being one of the best tour guides in Peru – we knew we would be in safe hands!

Not having known much about Lima before my visit and being a city people often just pass through when entering or leaving Peru, I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst an easy city to explore on your own, it is a fair size and I would definitely recommend a guide to cover ground quickly and seek out some great quirky sights which we would otherwise have easily missed. Next we are off to the Amazon jungle, with only 3 hours electricity per day, no wifi, no hot water, lots of spiders, snakes and caiman… but there is apparently a fridge full of cold beer - phewie!